Poverty is not a result of there not being “enough” because there’s not enough to go around. But because “enough” through exploitation, consumerism, and capitalism to name a few, has to leave someone with the short end of the stick. There has always been more than enough to go around to ensure the basic necessities of life for all. But through time, we’ve been conditioned through social systems to feel we are always to chase and fight for more; however easy or challenging “more” is to get. And whether that be more as in time, family, money, material or vacation… It all translates back to freedom. I believe people are chasing freedom, not new jobs, clothes, or items, but the feeling that comes with securing something you may have never had. A desire. Feel good feelings. Overtime we’ve been given little bits and pieces of “feel good feelings” that we can afford through these systems and have settled. As the systemic barriers may affect one’s livelihood and limit their freedom, the temporary allotments become “good enough.” This is where the poverty mindset comes in.
The communities who face the barrier of systemic oppression fall at risk to a life of survival. The poverty mindset is an actual psychological response to trauma. It can make an individual think they are stuck in adversity even if they are in a better position. Struggle, no matter the capacity, can be a form of trauma. When you are conditioned through the struggle of not being able to provide food for you or your children, afford transportation, land a secure job, connect with other people due to lack of societal acceptance, speak as articulately through low-level education, and most importantly, maintain a roof over your head, you will think differently than someone who hasn’t grown through these harsh circumstance. It’s called survival mode, and it acts as a barrier to the livelihood of marginalized communities.
The poverty mindset will keep communities shackled in the same forms of oppression they wish to escape unknowingly as it works its way into the subconscious. It becomes the way you think. Never buying higher quality meals even if you’re making more money now, because “that’s too expensive.” Never traveling or doing new, unfamiliar things because that’s “white people stuff,” but really it’s just we may have lacked the resources to engage with certain luxuries. These are just two examples that I’ve witnessed trap a person of color’s life through psychological limitations. We play it safe, because safe is a life or death situation. Or at least it feels that way. I’ve experienced losing the roof over my head, and many other common adversities faced by those that look like me. It changes you.
But I know that all I’ve truly desired is freedom. It’s no coincidence that’s what’s always been fought for by people. It makes or breaks many lives.